You know those days when it feels like the entire universe is against you?
Chris Jones and John Murphy must be feeling like the entire CFL fraternity is against them these days. And you have to wonder if it’s true.
At the very least, you have to think that someone, somewhere, is trying to stick it to the Riders’ new front office.
First it was leaked that the Riders attempted to add troubled NFL veteran Greg Hardy to their negotiation list. Given the CFL’s hard stance on domestic violence – and hear, hear to that – the Riders’ reputation was sullied a bit by the Hardy story. It didn’t matter that Jonesy reiterated for a few days that Hardy had approached the team, and not vice versa, and that it was the Riders that ultimately decided not to add him to their list.
Jonesy referred to the timing of the leak – supposedly more than a month after Hardy’s initial inquiry – as “a little interesting“.
Then the Riders got a call from CFL headquarter about not having enough national players on the field during their game against the BC Lions. Then they were fined $15,000 for the ratio violation. Fair enough. But there were also whispers that this wasn’t the first time and Jonesy & Co. had flouted the CFL’s ratio rules. Never mind that no one brought forth any evidence of it – or accused the Eskimos of cheating on their way to a Grey Cup victory last year.
Then Calgary QB Bo Levi Mitchell came out with a tweet not-so-subtly accusing the Riders of not following the league’s roster rules. He basically accused the Riders of keeping players around town and allowing them to practice with the team, even though they aren’t on the roster.
And then it got worse:
Who are these sources? And where’s their proof?
My money is on some guys from Alberta as the sources. As for the proof? We’ll see.
I’m hoping to build on my over 50% success rate last week, so let’s take a look at the upcoming week’s match ups.
MONTREAL AT EDMONTON
I just KNEW that Popp Topp would explode at some point!
Apparently Popp pulled a Corey Chamblin and went on a bit of a tirade after last week’s loss:
Popp threatened the players, starting with his offensive-lineman, stating they run the risk of being replaced by rookies earning minimum salary. But he then brought the rest of the team into focus, suggesting no player was irreplaceable while serving notice their play must improve or they risk unemployment.
And then the players fought back:
Several sources have told the Montreal Gazette veteran defensive-back Billy Parker challenged and took offence with some of Popp’s comments, especially how they would be perceived by a segment of the dressing room who have families. Popp immediately apologized and explained what he meant. Popp then asked the players if they understood the tone and were able to move on. The players remained silent.
The trouble with the Alouettes is their offence and special teams; their defence is fine. Being down one SJ Green doesn’t help. Neither does having a field goal kicker whose sucesssful field goal percentage is south of 50%.
It would also help if Popp Topp would learn which plays can be challenged so that he quits getting delay of game penalties.
The Edmonton Eskimos aren’t far behind the Alouettes in terms of imploding.
The Schmoes are a sad 2-4, which I imagine is more than a little humbling for a team that felt it could do no wrong last season.
Based on last week’s CFL Games Notes – ’cause God forbid the CFL release such game notes the day before a game or post them on their website; no – they leave it up to the individual teams, some of whom do it (thank you Edmonton and BC), and some who do not (COME ON, RIDERS) – the Schmoes are battling the Riders for last in the league in terms of yards and points given up per game. The Riders are giving up the most point, while the Eskies are giving up the most yards. But the Eskimos are definitely letting their QB get hit the most.
Therefore, the true match up this week will be between Popp Topp and Mike Reilly to see who explodes first.
I’m betting on Reilly.
PREDICTION: Montreal by 4
WINNIPEG AT TORONTO
The Argos had a bye last week. Newly-anointed starting QB Logan Kilgore is probably grateful for that.
As for the Bombers, they are riding high after a complete shellacking of the Tiger-Cats last week.
Just ignore the fact that the Bombers weren’t exactly effective during the second half of the game.
More importantly, though, it’s time to check in with the Blue Bombers’ social media time to see what inane Mike O’Shea quote they’ve posted this week:
Ah, there it is. What exactly does durability have to do with someone getting their spot back? If you were durable, why would you lose your spot? Maybe competitiveness would have been a better choice of word.
Anyway, the funniest part of last week’s game, aside from watching Kent Austin’s get more and more sullen as the game went on, was seeing Drew Willy wearing his helmet all game long, chin strap done up.
He wants back in the game.
I predict that MATTY ICE will falter at some point and that Drew will get his chance again.
But it won’t be this week.
PREDICTION: Winnipeg by 4
CALGARY AT SASKATCHEWAN
This should be fun.
“That’s the first I heard about that but he can talk all he wants. That’s fine. That’s fine,” snorted Riders defensive end Justin Capicciotti. “We’ll see him on the field. Who cares what a quarterback from Calgary has to say about our organization? That’s as far as I’m concerned. I’ll see him on Saturday. If that gives our guys extra fuel, then I feel bad for him.”
As for Jonesy, he says the Riders play by the rules:
“We are able by CFL rules to have tryout people at practice every single day,” Jones said Wednesday. “And we’ve brought a lot of people in because we’re never going to quit searching for talent. The day that you quit searching for good players – I mean you oughta know – because of how many injuries we’ve had. We’ve had more injuries than anybody in the CFL. It’s no secret.
“If they wanna cry about how many people we have on the 6-game (Injured List), all those are legitimate injuries. We’ve gotta make sure we know who the next person is that’s gonna step in and play because that next game is gonna come. They don’t change the schedule because our kicker gets hurt Day 3, or Xavier Fulton gets hurt Day 2. The games are coming and so that’s what they pay me to do; so that I know who the next person is to step in and play.”
But like usual, the Stampeders already appear to be getting the last laugh:
This is a sideshow the Riders don’t need. They put forward one of their better defensive efforts through the first three quarters of last week’s game before letting Jerome Messam run all over them in the fourth quarter.
Home and home series are notoriously difficult to sweep in the CFL. But the Riders appear to be more than a little distracted these days, what with the rumours and the constant merry-go-round due to the vast amount of injuries suffered by each part of the team.
Take the Stampeders. Again.
PREDICTION: Calgary by 10
HAMILTON AT BC
Haven’t you heard? Sad Sack is back!
I’ll never get enough of that picture.
Hamilton will have more than a little something to prove this week after not bothering to show up in Winnipeg last week. I expect Zach Collaros might be a little bit rusty after not playing for nearly a year. But he is the Ti-Cats’ saviour, with most Ti-Cat fans believing that they would’ve won the Grey Cup last year if not for Collaros’ injury.
Meanwhile, the Lions are on a roll, and Jonathon Jennings is getting a little bit cocky if I do say so myself.
The trouble for Hamilton is that its highly vaunted defence isn’t playing all that well. The whole down by 34 points at half time thing from last week is pretty good evidence of this. The Lions, on the other hand, are playing well in all areas.
Why did Wally have to return?